Discrimination of Biomechanically Possible and Impossible Hand Movements at Birth

Elena Longhi, Irene Senna, Nadia Bolognini, Hermann Bulf, Paolo Tagliabue, Viola Macchi Cassia, Chiara Turati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of human body perception has long been investigated, but little is known about its early origins. This study focused on how a body part highly relevant to the human species, namely the hand, is perceived a few days after birth. Using a preferential-looking paradigm, 24- to 48-hr-old newborns watched biomechanically possible and impossible dynamic hand gestures (Experiment 1, N = 15) and static hand postures (Experiment 2, N = 15). In Experiment 1, newborns looked longer at the impossible, compared to the possible, hand movement, whereas in Experiment 2 no visual preference emerged. These findings suggest that early in life the representation of the human body may be shaped by sensory-motor experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)632-641
Number of pages10
JournalChild Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Medicine(all)


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